Gloucestershire

Human remains in South Korea could be Gloster soldier

Human remains have been found in South Korea, which could be those of a Gloucestershire regiment soldier who fought in the Korean War in 1951.

Tests are now being carried out by the UK's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) to see if the soldier is British.

Bodies of several British soldiers who fought in Korea have never been found.

The discovery was made in October, but details of the find have only just been released.

Sue Raftree, of the JCCC based at RAF Innsworth in Gloucester, which is part of the MOD's Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), said it was too early to say for certain if the soldier was British.

"If we can identify them [and they turn out to be British] we will trace the family and we will then organise a proper military funeral," she said.

The body was found in the DMZ, the demilitarised zone close to the border with North Korea.

Glorious Glosters

Local military began digging in the area after an elderly local man said he had seen a European soldier being buried there 60 years ago.

The eyewitness claims to have been told at the time of the burial that the soldier was from the Gloucestershire regiment.

The remains have already been examined by the South Koreans, and initial findings suggest the soldier is Caucasian.

Image caption The remains were found after an eyewitness to the burial came forward

It is known that as well as British soldiers, Belgian forces fought in the region at the Battle of Imjin River in 1951.

The battle was part of the Korean War in which United Nations forces fought for the South Koreans against the North Koreans and the Chinese.

The Battle of Imjin River became famous for the "Glorious Glosters", members of the Gloucestershire regiment who famously held off against 10,000 Chinese troops for three nights in April 1951.

It remains the bloodiest battle fought by British Forces since World War II.

Sue Raftree said if the remains did turn out to be those of a British soldier then the body would normally be buried in South Korea.

"Our policy is that from the 1960s we did repatriate," she said.

"Prior to that we would bury in the country where they died, and therefore they would be buried in [the United Nations Memorial Cemetery] in Busan.

Missing soldiers list

"If the family decided exceptionally that they wanted them to come back then we would look at that on a case by case basis, but we would always suggest that they are buried with their comrades where they fell together and are buried together."

Image caption The body was discovered by local military digging in the DMZ

It is understood that a list of missing soldiers in the Korean War from the Gloucestershire regiment was never officially compiled, so identifying the soldier and any living relatives could prove to be tricky.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," said Ms Raftree. "Whether he's an unknown or a member of a regiment, it is very difficult."

The JCCC is currently trying to identify about 40 remains of British soldiers found in different parts of the world.

Some cases they have been working on for up to three years.

"We have to ensure that everything is done properly and we do get the right decision in the end," said Ms Raftree.

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